Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Oscar Colas Demotion Raises Questions About Future With White Sox


On Monday the White Sox optioned rookie right fielder Oscar Colas to Triple-A Charlotte for the second time this season. The move could have major implications for Colas’ future with the White Sox. 

Colas has struggled this season. He is slashing .216/.257/.314 with five home runs and 19 RBIs. In 263 big league appearances, he currently has a bWAR of -1.5, and an oWAR of -1.0.  Even for a rookie, those are disappointing numbers, especially for a prospect as highly touted as Colas. 

At this point in the season, the White Sox are focusing on the future. They are 33 games below .500 and eliminated from postseason contention. Now is the time to play prospects and see which ones could play a role on the big league roster next season. The fact that they decided to send Colas down to Charlottle is very telling. 

“We need him to completely clean up his whole game. I’m talking about baserunning, defensively, these are things I’ve spoken about all year. These are not new,” White Sox manager Pedro Grifol said when asked about Colas’s demotion.

If Getz and Grifol thought he was a viable option in right field next season he would still be on the big league roster. Colas will turn 25 this week. At this point, he should be a staple in the White Sox lineup. But despite his age, he has not shown much maturity as a hitter. 

The White Sox former No. 2 overall prospect has struggled with plate discipline and often has a poor approach at the plate, especially with runners in scoring position. This is highlighted by his 4.6 percent walk rate. 

According to Baseball Savant, Colas has a whiff rate of 31.8% and a strikeout rate of 27%. This is aided by his nearly 40% chase rate (39.8%) which is amongst the worst in baseball. Simply put he does not look like a major league hitter. 

Things are not much better on the defensive side. Colas owns a dWAR of -0.8. His six errors lead all American League right fielders despite only playing 69 games there. His six errors are also the third-highest total amongst all AL outfielders. While Colas does have above-average arm strength he still has a Fielding Run Value of -1, which measures how often a baserunner takes an extra base off of him. 

All signs point to Colas not being on the White Sox much longer. The question now is who will be getting at-bats in right field the rest of the way. It is a position that the White Sox have struggled to solve. From 2017-2023, White Sox right fielders have a combined -0.1 fWAR.

Colas was pegged to finally be the answer. When he was first signed the Cuban outfielder was billed as a solid hitter whose strength and quick left-handed stroke could translate into 30-plus home runs on an annual basis. Instead, he has added another chapter to the White Sox revolving door in right field.

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